Current incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD is unbelievably 1 out of every 95 children. As compared with the number of children diagnosed with this disorder in 1980, the percentage of ASD has quadrupled. In 1980, autism was considered a rare disorder, with an estimated 2-5 per 10,000 people.
Autism is generally diagnosed during a child's first 3 years of life, however new research is now identifies diagnostic indicators as early as 6 months. One may wonder what is happening to cause such a dramatic increase in this relatively new disability. Autistic children display difficulties in Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), comprehension problems, expressive language disorders, and a variety of social/pragmatic difficulties. A review of medical, professional, and research literature will result in an array of various explanations. An extensive review of the medical, professional, and autism interest group literature results in a wide diversity of opinion and explanation to the apparent escalating rise of autism. Some believe that autism has no cure, while others claim that there is a complete and definite cure.
During the 1970's, research data began to be reported which showed strong evidence in the role of genetics in the causation of autism. The theory of environmental influence in the causation of autism has only recently taken a more prominent stance amongst the professional and medical communities. In his book Changing the Course of Autism, Dr. Bryan Jepson states that even though finding the gene that triggers autism could lead to developing a medication for treatment, "understanding the role of the environment and studying the biochemistry of autistic children seems much more likely to lead to effective treatment immediately, and in fact would pinpoint which genes should be targeted...understanding the genetic factors requires understanding the impact of the environment on the genetic code." Most proponents of this theory do believe that there is a genetic predisposition to autism, however that changes in the environment and in the practice of modern day medicine are "activating", you might say, the genetic flaw.
As a Speech/Language Pathologist of 25 years, I have noted an unprecedented increase in the diagnosis of autism or one of the various diagnostic labels that fall within the autism spectrum of disorders among the pediatric client population I work. The "picture" of the typical autistic child has made dramatic and wide range changes in the years since beginning in the field of speech and language therapy. The profile of a regular classroom has been transformed in the past 20 years. School nurses are inundated with various medications from those for ADD/ADHD to Bipolar Disorder to ASD. So, are we experiencing an epidemic of Autism Spectrum Disorders or are we just getting better in diagnosing it? Regardless of the causation, children with autism can be helped! New technology, learning therapies, and integrative techniques are available to assist in better brain learning and networking. These new methods can increase the overall abilities for the autistic child so that he or she can learn to understand his or her world.
Lucy Gross-Barlow: As a Speech/Language Pathologist of over 26 years and having practiced in a wide variety of therapeutic settings, Lucy brings to her clients a diversity of patient care knowledge. For the past 12 years, she has specialized her practice in the area of processing disorders and remediation of learning impairments, and she has a passion in seeing her clients succeed in their communicative and learning skills. Lucy now desires to extend the knowledge she has gained in processing and learning remediation to as many children as possible to enable them to reach their full learning and communicative potential in life. Lucy is a founding partner of The Therapy Group, an association of Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, learning specialists, Speech-Language Pathology Aides, parent teachers, administrators and advocates pioneering an industry in web-based consulting for parents who seek to help their children with learning challenges or those learning with disabilities in achieving academic and social success. Providing parents with resources, learning therapies, proprietary products and programs worldwide.
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